As I remember people, it seems that I visualize them from one time, and in one place, when I had seen them in an especially telling moment. Maybe it is the photographer in me.
It was abut 50 years ago in Cannon Beach. Elvin, Virginia, Don, Art, and Mary Claire were staying in what we called "Grandma's House." I think Grandma had originally bought it so she could get sleep when the Mosley kids were very young, but later rented it. The Tarlows would tell Grandma not to rent it one week during the summer so that they could stay there.
I think we had come over for breakfast. I hadn't been in the house very often and was surprised to see the angled walls and the slight warp in the cardboard which covered them. As I walked into the kitchen I heard this joyful sizzle. Elvin, in a white T-shirt, was standing over the little stove (it was one of those that barely had room for four burners) and was defiantly cooking pork sausage in a large black cast-iron frying pan. He had a wonderful grin on his face...showing us all "this is how you do it". And I believe there was the smell of coffee perking away in one of those aluminum pots with a glass knob at the top.
It wasn't just that he was cooking "pig", but sausage...I had never seen anyone doing that. We had cooked bacon many times. But I don't think my mom had ever bought or cooked pork sausage...and since she never let us into the kitchen, I never saw anything frying with that vigor.
I knew the look on his face. He was doing something that a child would do...and enjoying it. And he was enjoying showing us that this was great to eat. But more than that, he had that wonderful look that kids have when they are breaking the rules.
I had never seen a
man cook anything. I'm sure that was a surprise. I had never seen so many
people in such a small room. I had never seen anything sizzle like those
sausages were sizzling. And I had never seen such a joyful look on anyone's
I had thought alot about pigs all my life. I think I felt sorry for them because Jews felt that they were "dirty" and wouldn't eat them. It seemed to separate, in my child's mind, Jews from other people. Even more importantly, I had been taught that adults don't break rules...and there was my uncle Elvin doing just that and enjoying it so much. (Now that I'm a college department chair I'm trying to figure out when I should break the rules.)
I know that Reggie spoke of Elvin "practicing fathering" on her when she was young, as shown in the picture above. This was a very special family--one that broke more rules--with each of the kids having a different combination of parents. It wasn't until many years later that I had it figured out.
I shall miss Elvin. He was the last of my living uncles. He was the only connection I knew to Milton's first wife, Mary, who both Milton and Elvin cared for very much.
I do treasure having him as an uncle as I know others treasure him as a husband, father, brother, great uncle and friend. Good-bye Elvin. Thanks for being part of us.
Kim Mosley 5/6/02